Shoppers in Beijing are in something of an Olympic competition of their own. Only it's not a medal they're after, it's a cuddly panda.
Like an in-demand toy causing holiday mayhem, the line to enter the Olympics store stretched around the International Broadcast Center in Beijing on Saturday, with patrons hoping to purchase the plush Bing Dwen Dwen, the official mascot of the 2022 Winter Games.
Some waited as long as seven hours.
"I didn't watch the watch when I arrived because the line was so long that I thought it would be pretty depressing to know how long I have been here," one shopper said while still standing in line.
Many spectators were curious why some Olympians were being given toy pandas instead of medals at the 2022 Winter Games. Turns out, for fans and spectators, those pandas have become about as coveted as a gold medal.
While athletes who reach the medal podium get their panda handed to them, shoppers have struggled to get their hands on one as demand has been far greater than supply. Some have even camped out overnight in freezing temperatures outside of merchandise stores.
Officials promised last week that production would ramp up at factories producing the toys. The shortage has created a crackdown on what has become a lucrative secondhand market. Punishment for traders reselling the souvenirs at prices deemed too high include detention, fines and confiscation of goods.